Nearly half of all current marriages in the U.S. are remarriages for at least one of the spouses. That’s a lot of blended families! If you are among the millions of happily remarried people out there, you have some important estate planning questions to consider, especially if you have children from your previous marriage to whom you intend to leave assets or property. Get some estate planning tips for remarried couples from our experienced New York estate planning attorneys.
How Remarriages Complicate Estate Planning
In a first marriage, estate planning is usually very straightforward. Everything goes to the surviving spouse, and then to any children. With a remarriage, however, more people may have a claim on property, and each spouse may have very particular wishes for how things should be distributed. Some problems that can arise without the right kind of estate plan include the following:
- Children can be disinherited. If a partner in a second marriage dies without a will, his or her property will automatically go to the surviving spouse. When the surviving spouse dies without a will, the property will then go to his or her children. This process will disinherit the children of the spouse who dies first. If you want a family home, for example, to go to your children from your first marriage, you will have to plan for that.
- If not disinherited, children may have to wait for inheritance. Even if you’ve specified that your children should inherit certain property, without the right estate planning documents, they may have to wait until your spouse dies before they can inherit from your estate.
- Former spouses may still have a claim. If you haven’t removed your first spouse as a named beneficiary on insurance policies or retirement accounts, he or she will inherit these assets regardless of remarriage or children. Smart estate planning can ensure that your former spouse doesn’t have a claim on your property.
- Division of authority or responsibility may be in dispute. If you are remarried and your children from a previous marriage are under 18, there could be traumatic disputes over custody and legal decision-making if you or your first spouse dies without making plans for this possibility.
All of these potential problems can be avoided with the right estate planning tools in place.
Ask Us About These Estate Planning Documents
Having a frank conversation with your new spouse and adult children from a previous marriage is the most important step you can take. When you meet with our estate planning attorneys, we will go over your options for putting your wishes down in legally binding documents, which may include the following:
- Premarital and marital agreements
- Bloodline trusts
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts
- Family limited partnership
- Life estates
Regardless of how happy you are in your current marriage, it’s vital that you think beyond your lifetime to protect your spouse, your children, and your property. Contact Landskind & Ricaforte Law Group, P.C., today to get started.